Snow Days… and Working Parents

snow days and working parentsHere’s something we haven’t discussed: snow days… and working parents. In the midst of this week’s “bombcyclone” winter storm (hmm, how does that compare to “Snowmageddon” or “Snowpocalypse“?), we thought we’d share some tips on how to deal with a snow day as a working parent. All along the East Coast today, flights are being canceled, power outages are striking, and … schools are closing. Sure, it can be nice to spend a surprise day with your kids, but more often than not for working parents, that 5:00 a.m. school notification prompts more of a “Damn!” than a “Yay!” What about that important meeting or presentation or project (or all of the above) that was on your schedule? What about those errands you were going to run on your lunch break, gloriously sans kids?

Perhaps your nanny or other backup childcare strategy can make it to your house despite the snow, or maybe a grandparent can help out — or your partner can take one for the team. But when your nanny’s stuck at home because the plow company is nowhere to be found, or your mother-in-law doesn’t want to drive in a blizzard, or it was your spouse’s turn last time and now you’re up … what do you do?

Here are a few ways to (try to) be more productive when your kids are home unexpectedly — and to generally cope with a snow day as a working mom:

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The Working Mom’s Guide to Easy School Lunches

easy school lunch ideasOk, ladies — what do you pack for your kiddo’s lunches, whether for daycare, elementary school, or other? Are you most concerned with ease of packing, assuredness of eating, nutrition, calories, or cost? What are your top easy school lunch ideas? Have you had success outsourcing this task — for example, I’ll bet this is a nobrainer for those of you with au pairs, but for those of you in daycare it’s either you or your partner. We kind of had a discussion about working moms and kids lunches a few year ago, but it’s been a while — so let’s discuss.

For my $.02, we’re trying to maintain my first grader’s weight until he grows a bit taller, so my primary concerns are a mix of calories, nutrition, and volume (I want him to feel like he’s getting a lot of food, even if I know he’ll only eat half of the cherry tomatoes or baby carrots I pack for him), and, selfishly, ease of packing for me or my husband. We also try to be good to the environment where we can and pack reusable containers — but I’m also realizing that this is resulting in a zillion dishes to wash, so we’ll see how that goes.

For “mains” I find that it’s hard to get around yogurt/milk/sandwich options, unless we have acceptable leftovers (for example, I’ve given meatballs and rice before!) — so most of these ideas are easy snacks and “extras.” But I’m curious to hear what your tips are for packing school lunches — and what you pack! 

These are my go-tos for easy school lunches:

Easy School Lunch Ideas that are Healthy and Non-Processed

  • cherry tomatoes
  • apples, precut apple slices
  • baby carrots
  • hard boiled eggs
  • shredded or pulled chicken
  • grapes
  • all berries

Healthy, Convenient Food Ideas for School Lunches

Some good ideas if you’re in the middle of the road (i.e., “healthy” convenience food) — but they tend to be expensive!:

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4 Apps That Help Working Moms Stay Connected to School or Daycare

Apps That Help Working Moms Stay Connected to School2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on our favorite apps to help you stay connected to school or daycare — but you may also want to check out some of our newer stories on tech for working moms.

Does your child’s daycare or school use any apps that help working moms stay connected to school (and dads, of course, and parents in general)? It’s helpful and reassuring to get regular updates when your kid is too young to tell you about his/her day, and when yothe best apps to help working mothers stay connected to daycare or schoolur kid is older, you can get around the “What did you do at school today?” non-answers. (My son’s favorite is “I forgot!” when I ask him about certain things that happened during his first-grade school day.) It’s especially nice if you don’t have time to volunteer at school and don’t ever get to see what goes on during a typical day. Today we’ve rounded up some parent communication apps that you can consider recommending to your child’s school if they don’t currently use one (before the year is out).

With various features and options (and prices), here are four apps that help working moms stay connected to school:

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